A regional government report shows a slowdown in traffic growth in Metropolitan St. Louis, but state highway officials still plan to expand highways.
"Traffic in the St. Louis area has plateaued this decade, ending years of fast growth that fueled demand for more and wider roads.
A recent analysis by East-West Gateway Council of Governments shows traffic growth in the eight-county region slowed to an average annual rate of less than 1 percent between 2000 and 2006.
That's down from 2.3 percent average growth in the 1990s, and 4.3 percent growth in the 1980s.
'It's going to change how we look at building the transportation system,' said Les Sterman, executive director of East-West Gateway, which determines how federal transportation money is spent in the region. "Clearly, the level of traffic volumes that we expect will determine how much additional capacity we plan for in the system."
Highway officials still believe roads must be expanded.
'We're so far behind the curve on just meeting the needs that are here today,' said Ed Hassinger, district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation. 'I'm not sure it has an affect on the here and now.'"